On National Nurses Day, Vicki Hines-Martin, Mary Romelfanger named recipients of Spalding University Caritas Medal as alumnae of the year

Steve Jones

On National Nurses Day, Spalding University announces that distinguished School of Nursing graduates Dr. Vicki Hines-Martin and Mary Romelfanger have been named recipients of the Caritas Medal as the university’s alumnae of the year.

The Caritas Medal is the highest award bestowed by Spalding University, and it is being presented at a time when the nation and world continue to celebrate the contributions of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hines-Martin, who earned the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (1975) and Master of Arts in Education (1983) from Spalding, is an educator and researcher who is acclaimed for her work focused on health disparities, access to care and healthcare needs of minority populations.

An author of dozens of scholarly publications and the founder of the KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville, Hines-Martin serves as Associate Dean for the University of Louisville School of Nursing’s Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Inclusion. She is also Director of Community Outreach for the U of L Health Sciences Center’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Romelfanger, who received a BSN from Spalding in 1976, has been a longtime leader, administrator and consultant in geriatric and senior care who recently became the Director of Operations for Hildegard House, Kentucky’s first and only comfort care home. Hildegard House provides a home and compassionate care for individuals at the end of life who have no home or loved ones to care for them so that they may die with dignity.

Mary Romelfanger
Mary Romelfanger, BSN, ’76

Romelfanger previously served as Associate Director for the U of L School of Medicine’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging (2013-16), and she was Vice President for Clinical Services for  Presbyterian Homes and Services of Kentucky (2008-09). From 1994 to 2005, Romelfanger was Director of the U.S. Office of Health Services for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and before that she spent 14 years as Deputy Executive Director of the Kentucky Board of Nursing.

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It is the first time in the 60-year history of the Caritas Medal that Spalding has conferred two Caritas awards in the same year. This is a fitting year to award the university’s highest honor to multiple graduates of the School of Nursing, Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said.

“Vicki Hines-Martin and Mary Romelfanger are highly deserving recipients of the Caritas Medal who have made significant, lasting contributions in nursing and healthcare provision, education and research,” McClure said. “In honoring them this year, Spalding is also honoring the profession of nursing and the countless graduates of the Spalding School of Nursing who for decades have provided compassionate care in our community, including, recently, on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The courage, compassion and skill exhibited by nurses over the past year have reminded us of the critical role that nurses play in our lives, and we cannot thank them enough.”

Hines-Martin and Romelfanger will formally receive the Caritas Medal during the commencement ceremony for the School of Nursing’s bachelor’s program on June 4.

Vicki Hines-Martin, BSN ’75, MA ’83

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The Caritas Medal has been presented to Spalding’s alumna or alumnus of the year since 1961. “Caritas,” meaning “charity” in Latin, is a central element of the motto of Spalding’s founders, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth: “Caritas Christi Urget Nos,” or “The Charity of Christ Urges Us.” As such, the Caritas medalist is recognized for his or her contributions in a particular field and for exemplifying a spirit of service consistent with the mission and tradition of Spalding.

The award is presented annually during Commencement to a past graduate of Spalding University or Nazareth College who is nominated by alumni.

Romelfanger’s civic service includes membership on the Board of Directors of ElderServe since 2016. She has also served on the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission Alzheimer’s and Dementia Workforce Assessment Task Force, the Kentucky Council on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the U of L Department of Family and Geriatrics Advisory Board and the Spalding School of Nursing Advisory Board.

She has recently served as a COVID-19 testing and vaccination volunteer.

“After the shock of being given the news of being selected as a recipient of the Spalding University Caritas Medal,” Romelfanger said, “my initial thought was ‘Wow, if they could see me now!’ ‘They,’ of course, are the cadre of those women and men who in ways great and small, had a part in forming the professional practitioner I have become and – through the abundant knowledge they imparted –  been gifted to share the art, science and spirit of nursing to a host of widely varied communities over the years. Those who came before us taught us the actualized Caritas – the love of humanity. My heartfelt wish is that we honor them by continuing to pay this legacy forward to new generations.”

Hines-Martin has been on the full-time faculty at U of L since 1998. She has also taught at the University of Kentucky, Indiana University Southeast and Jefferson Community and Technical College and served on a range of national journal editorial boards, advisory panels and peer review boards.

In addition, from 2019-20, she was President of the International Society of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses, and she has served in a variety of roles since 1980 with the Kentucky Nurses Association, including Co-Director of the Kentucky Nurses Helping Nurses Project in 2020.

“I consider receiving the Caritas Medal to be a great honor, and it makes me very proud,” Hines-Martin said. “Spalding gave me an excellent education, which was the foundation for pretty much everything I did after that. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do the kind of work that I’ve done and to have had the foundation on which to build that work.

“As a nurse receiving this award, I think the best thing I can do is represent that group of people who serve people and do so in a quiet, efficient way. The pandemic brought to light how much nurses do. I’m very happy to represent a profession that’s so trusted, one that takes a lot of dedication and one that provides service to lots of people every single day.”